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Is it just a cold? Dr. Ashok Rai says get tested for any COVID-19 symptoms

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 7:42 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Dr. Ashok Rai admits he’s been surprised by how many cases of nasal congestion or mild cough turn out to be COVID-19. “A lot more than I honestly expected to see,” the president and CEO of Prevea told us.

Dr. Rai addressed this and other viewers' questions Tuesday on Action 2 News This Morning.

A viewer reported he had a cough and congestion but no fever, but at his daughter’s urging he was tested for COVID-19 and was positive. Dr. Rai recommends getting tested if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19.

“You’re thinking it’s starting to get to that time of year, we’re going to get a lot of colds, and we are, but we’ll go ahead and order the COVID test and they’re coming back a lot more positive,” Dr. Rai said. "Once again, any type of symptoms with COVID, get tested. Even if they seem mild, let’s get that diagnosis either shown or out of the way so we can see what’s going on with you.”

Some testing sites require you to have at least one symptom of COVID-19 to get free testing so be sure to check with your health provider or local testing site. Symptoms listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:

  • Fever of 100.4 or higher
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

DR. RAI ON THE NEW STATE FIELD HOSPITAL

The alternate care facility at the state fairgrounds isn’t get much use. It opened almost two weeks ago to help the state’s 134 hospitals handle a surge by taking their COVID-19 patients who are closer to being released, but as of Monday it’s only treating four patients.

“With any kind of medical transfer, medical treatment, we want to make sure the patient’s on board, the family’s on board with that kind of treatment, and it’s a certain kind of patient they’ll accept, a certain amount of oxygen they’re on; it can’t be over a certain amount. They’ve got to be able to walk, mostly by themselves or maybe with a one-person assist. So, it’s a narrow group of patients, and we’re still looking for someone who falls in that group, and you’re right, once you find the right patient then that patient has to want to go there and agree to go there.”

PREVEA’S NEW INDOOR TESTING SITE OPENING AT BROWN COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS

"We’ve been working on this since September, actually is when the team started to meet. We tried to figure out. We looked all around Brown County. As we found out Sunday, it snows here, it snows early, and we want to make sure that testing can continue through the winter months because we’re likely going to need it in one form or another.

"So, this is a new site. We’re thankful the county was able to lease it to us and to all the subcontractors that did some quick construction, brought heating in, brought air exchange in, created a new driveway, brought fiber cable out there so we have internet so we can record the test.

“Now, you need to sign up for this test online and have an appointment to go there -- can’t just show up. And what this is is taking three of our largest sites in Brown County and consolidating it over time into this site, so it’s important to understand that we still need you to go online to schedule the test. But we want to make sure people can stay dry or warm and safe when they’re getting tested. So you can see there’s two lanes when you drive in here and plenty of signs to tell you where to go.”

WISCONSIN’S DEADLIEST 5 DAY STRETCH OF THE PANDEMIC AVERAGING 24 DEATHS A DAY.  A MONTH AGO IT WAS 4 DEATHS A DAY.

“I consider 4 deaths bad, and 24 deaths bad. It’s hard to see that. But it’s important to understand with COVID and looking at death numbers, it’s not what’s happening that day, it’s what’s happened over weeks to get to that situation. So a patient may be with us 20-30 days, you know, we’ve expired all the different things we can do for that patient and then they unfortunately pass away, so that happens in clusters because we’ve managed so many patients in the hospital during a time period that unfortunately some people just don’t make it, and that’s what we’re seeing. So it’s not that the deaths were spiking in town because of what was happening last week, it’s what’s been happening over our region the last month that led to last week.”

ANY SIGNS OF HOPE RIGHT NOW?

“I look for any sign of hope I can, and yesterday we had a handful less in the hospital than we had the previous Monday, so you know that’s a trend that hopefully continues, but that can change in a single day, we know that. But I like to hang on any hope we can have right now, and hopefully people are starting to listen, avoiding those group gatherings so we can start to see the number of people turning positive lower, our percent positivity going down, and hopefully the hospital admissions will trend in that direction, too. I’m hoping for a good week.

WHAT’S THE CHALLENGE FOR DOCTORS HANDLING A GROUP OF COVID PATIENTS AND WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE LAST 8-MONTHS?

“The majority of that management is done by physicians in the hospital or in the nursing home setting and the patient. It’s complicated. If they’re going to be in the hospital or nursing home, they likely have something else going on, with COVID making things even worse, so the management is difficult. But I’ll be honest with you, what we are doing today versus what we were doing eight months ago, learned a lot, have a lot more tools at our disposal -- nothing that’s an instant cure, but patients are staying with us longer but actually doing a little bit better, and they’re getting managed day by day and we’re learning day by day.”

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